Home is my world. I’m a self-confessed homebody feeling most comfortable and myself when surrounded by the things I love, with the people I love.
Gemma Andrews is the founder of Le Viti Newrybar, a Mediterranean inspired escape tucked away in the lush Byron Bay hinterland. Hailing from Sydney, Gemma and her family moved to the Northern Rivers five years ago to follow their dreams in creating bespoke luxury guest houses.
In her account for A Grounded Life, Gemma shares how the devastating passing of her parents prompted her to follow her dreams of moving to the Byron hinterland and creating guest accommodation.
Please enjoy this real and exciting account of a Grounded Life by Gemma Andrews.
Where do you call home?
My family and I live on two beautiful acres in the historic village of Newrybar, set amongst farmland yet centrally located only footsteps to the town itself.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Home is my world. I’m a self-confessed homebody feeling most comfortable and myself when surrounded by the things I love, with the people I love. I love pottering around the home and getting out in the garden spending my days dreaming up new ideas for future projects which in return makes my husband Jason shudder.
What are the elements that help you transform a house into your home?
It’s a clichéd answer but of course my family, the four walls are nothing without them. The hustle and bustle they all bring to the table is chaotic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Jason and I have three children Judd 17, Ivy 15 and Layla 12, plus our beloved labradoodle Bowie. Besides my family being the heart of the home, I feel our house transforms to home with the addition of soft natural tones and earthy textures. This colour palette really connects with me and makes me feel relaxed, at ease and comforted all year round.
What creative projects find you most excited and energized?
Since moving to the Northern Rivers five years ago and leaving the city lights of Sydney behind for the rolling hills of the Byron hinterland, we swiftly purchased a property that needed a lot of work to transform it into our future vision. The property had a beautiful story, so we wanted to retain its rich history and not take the easy road of knocking it down and rebuilding. The Farmhouse and Barn was originally owned by one of the earliest families (the Nobles) to arrive in Newrybar back in 1881. The Nobles built the original farmhouse which we are now proud custodians of. It’s a boomerang shaped home and was one of the first designed in its time. In 2019 we named the property “Le Viti”, meaning “The Vines” in Italian and it was chosen to pay homage to the history of our village which was first settled in 1881. The name ‘Newrybar’ comes from the Aboriginal Bundjalung language meaning “place of climbing vines”
It was an interesting process not knowing suppliers around the region, where back in Sydney we knew this well, so we drew on help from interior designer Mel Gubbin from Avenue Twenty Two to help us along the way. Mel is an amazing designer and a dream to work with. We are now currently working on our Farmhouse extension which Mel has also been a sounding board for my ideas. It’s a 12 month project which will include a new living area, dining room, kitchen, walk-in pantry, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and laundry. While outdoors will include a new pool and pool house, outdoor kitchen and living, multiple courtyards and garage so there’s a lot going on! We also have some pipeline dreams on an extension on The Barn but this will definitely be a ‘later’ project. We also have a beach villa opposite Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay named “Le Viti Beach'' which has also undergone a substantial renovation and even more recently purchased a property in beautiful Brunswick Heads which will be called “Le Viti Brunswick” which we will make plans to renovate in 2023 and rent as another luxury guest house so this all keeps me extremely busy and energised.
Which life and/or work projects are you most proud of?
I think once we finish our goals here at Le Viti Newrybar it will definitely be this estate, it’s a huge passion project.
Could you share with us some personal insights into a challenging time in your life?
Definitely the passing of my parents, they were my rock and it was hard and still is difficult not having them in my life.
What did you learn about yourself throughout this challenge?
It took some time to deal with their passing, but this is where I decided to follow my dream of moving to the Byron hinterland and creating guest accommodation. With the support of Jason this wouldn’t have been possible. He said we would give the move a 12 month trial, but within three weeks he fell in love with the area and on a whim turned up to the auction site unseen and purchased our property. So, I’ve learnt to be true to yourself and follow your dreams as they can become a reality.
What type of activities or rituals do you instill to help you remain Grounded?
Without a doubt, sunsets are my thing! My kids tease me all the time about how obsessed I am with them. At the end of each day, I’m blown away by their beauty. I wish we could freeze time in that magic hour. Also I am absolutely loving Hot Pilates at the moment sharing my mornings with a bunch of girlfriends.
What is the best life advice you have been given?
I wouldn’t really call this the ‘best’ life advice but I think this is funny and I love it just the same. While out to lunch with friends one day my girlfriend turned to her husband and said jokingly “You do you darling, and I’ll do me.”
Favourite travel destination for Grounding yourself:
Italy – Puglia, Positano and Rome.
One city must-do travel tip:
This isn’t a city but more of a village, but rent a private boat in Positano and sail around the Amalfi Coast stopping at exquisite restaurants enjoying the freshest seafood and then enjoy the sunset before you return to shore.